June 9, 2023


Українська світова інформаційна мережа | Ukrainian Worldwide Information Network


3 min read

What is Happening and How to Counteract Against It

Drafted by a group of analysts associated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kyiv School of Economics

The Current Situation
Ukraine is under attack. Informational warfare and cyberattacks have already disrupted government portals, spread disinformation, heightened the level of society’s anxiety and are creating the image of a “helpless country.” The Russian Federation is utilizing the following methods, situations and instruments in cyberspace and in informational and energy domains.

  1. Aggression in which energy is used to exert economic and social pressures
    Example: sudden gas price increases are used to threaten the ongoing viability of sectors of the economy. On December 1, 2021, in Odessa there appeared informational provocation claiming increased rates for heat.
  2. Cyberattacks
    Example: attacks upon government sites. During the night of January 13 going on 14, there was a global attack by hackers resulting in the immobilization of various government sites (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education and Science and the Diya site). In last December alone, Ukraine’s Security Service had to neutralize 59 separate cyberattacks on various governmental informational systems.
  3. Informational Attacks/The Disinformation Campaign
    Examples: systematic activity aimed at dehumanizing Ukrainians, creating a toxic informational background (“nothing is going to work out,” “Ukraine is a failed state”) and denying Ukraine the right to agency as a country. Another example: information warfare has become a part of the cyberattacks on government sites, with hackers on January 1, 2022, inserting anti-Ukrainian announcements and threatening messages on government sites.

What Does This All Mean and Why Is It Being Done?
The cyber, informational and energy-related attacks are all a part of the Russian Federation’s plan of hostilities. None of these attacks is launched simply for its own purposes. They are all directed towards harming the economy, generating harmful social attitudes and increasing society’s level of anxiety.

The next steps may consist of provocations at the border and social unrest at regional capitals. Such provocations will include cyber, informational and energy-related actions. This context is being prepared to lay the groundwork for the introduction of Russian armies onto the territory of Ukraine. This will then be “explained” by Ukraine’s purported inadequacies, so that peace and order need to be forcibly introduced by military means (Georgia, 2008, and Kazakhstan, 2022). This invasion will then be rationalized with the slogans “NATO is inflaming provocations, we can’t allow them to get closer,” “Ukraine is filled with social unrest, we need to stop it and restore order,” “they started it (reacting to their own provocation)” and “we are protecting people, these are our people.”

What Each of You Can Do Immediately
Now, as never before, is the time for each Ukrainian to speak out.
Speak about how Ukraine is under attack.
Speak with your friends in Ukraine and with those in foreign countries.
Reach out to your network of contacts and explain what is really going on.
Use your public voice: write an article, a column, make a post.

About What Should We Speak and How?
The Russian Federation is making every effort ranging from the technical to the diplomatic in order to reach its goal, which is to demonstrate Ukraine’s inability to be an independent and successful state. In order to counteract this campaign, it is not necessary to respond to each individual action but to expose and explain the true motivations and goals behind such actions.
–Ukraine is an independent European country and Ukrainians will themselves choose their own future. Russia does not have the right to decide whether Ukraine joins NATO, and it also does not have the right to demand that anyone remain unaffiliated with any bloc.
–The Russian Federation claims that Ukraine is a threat. That is true. But the threat is not military, and the threat posed is not directed against every Russian. A successful and democratic Ukraine constitutes a threat to the Russian Federation’s regime because it will then be impossible for it to explain why a neighbor without oil and gas but with a democratic state is providing a better quality of life.
–The Russian Federation needs a weak Ukraine in order to control it and in order to make it a part of Russia’s own project to recreate the USSR. Hiding behind the slogans “regional security” and “the threat of NATO” lie the very pragmatic goals of taking away the Black Sea, land and Ukraine’s access to global markets.

Alexander Motyl

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